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Microsoft CEO decision coming in early 2014

There has been tons of speculation as to who will assume the CEO throne at Microsoft once current head honcho Steve Ballmer steps down. Though an exact date for Ballmer’s resignation, which he said would come within 12 months after announcing his departure on August 23, has yet to be provided by anyone, a little light has been shed on the issue by a top figure in Microsoft.

John W. Thompson, who sits on Microsoft’s board of directors, wrote in an official Microsoft blog post that the tech giant expects to complete the search for its next chief executive in early 2014.

“We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen, and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals, all extremely impressive in their own right,” wrote Thompson. “As you would expect, as this group has narrowed, we’ve done deeper research and investigation, including with the full Board.”

While it has been heavily rumored that Alan Mulally, current CEO of Ford, and Stephen Elop, who has a history with Microsoft and is the former CEO of Nokia, are both in the running for the top job currently occupied by Ballmer, it’s unclear who the favorite is at the moment, or whether there is one at all.

One thing is for certain, though: after suffering multiple failings in the past 10 years, including Windows Vista, Zune, and a rocky Windows 8 launch, a new CEO could breathe some new, needed life into the embattled tech giant.